Inside The Studio: Beardwood&Co.

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"When people feel well, they feel amazingly calm, relaxed and free of stress, yet also re-energized and emotionally lifted. When we deliver that sense of calm and energy – through strategy and design – people react viscerally – it makes them feel good. It’s incredibly effective for brands in any category – and that’s what inspires our work.”

The Dieline opens up the doors inside Beardwood&Co. studio: "a team of strategists driven by creative potential and designers inspired by human insights," and discovers five lessons they have uncovered while developing or rebranding wellness goods. 

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Tell us Beardwood&Co.'s story:

Julia Beardwood, Founder of Beardwood&Co.:

I started this company in December 2004 because I thought there was a better way to work with clients to build their businesses. A way that’s all about getting the right strategic and creative people involved at the right time to get outstanding results. A way that leverages the power of an emotional connection as a constant thread through brand communications. A true partnership with clients who want their brands to stand out.

Self-interestedly, I also wanted to create a better place to work. An action-oriented place that focuses on developing the best possible work for clients without bureaucracy or internal divisions. A place where people have grand aspirations and boundless energy for what we can achieve. A fun place to work!

Having started out as a bunch of freelancers meeting in Starbucks, I am proud to have been joined by a talented team of strategists and designers in a lovely loft space in Soho. We continue to partner with a large group of freelance specialists — over 30 of them last year - who have worked in leading corporations, ad agencies and design firms, but have chosen the freedom of working outside them.

Our logo symbolizes an owl as a sign of the "uncommon wisdom" we aim to bring to our clients. We consider ourselves very lucky to have already had the chance to work with leading companies such as Bath & Body Works, Westin, Lego, Sperry Topsider and Honest Tea as well as Pfizer and Real Simple, as well as entrepreneurs CBGB and Carol’s Daughter, and non-profits like the American Museum of Natural History. Our work has been featured in stories by Vogue, O magazine, Women's Wear Daily, Trendhunter and Print magazine's Design Annual "Best of New York City."

Our growth over the past eight years and diversity of challenges that clients bring us suggest we are doing something right. 

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Why should design agencies focus on helping major brands tap into the influential and ever-growing wellness trend and increase sales?

Brands in every category are leveraging people’s desire for wellness and translating that into substantial sales growth. According to Euromonitor International, “Global health and wellness sales are predicted to hit a record high of US $1 trillion by 2017.”

Through years of wellness-oriented projects, the team at Beardwood&Co. has uncovered some wellness truths that keep cropping up whichever category we’re operating in. 

 1. Wellness is incredibly personal.

It means different things to different people, so you need to really understand your “Wellness WHO.” We invest the time to get into the mindset of the target audience segment. In a category like cold medicines, there’s a segment of “proactive avoiders” for whom wellness means having the power to fight back against a cold - rather than succumbing to its full force - with a “Pre-Cold” remedy like Zicam. Or when you’re talking to “anxious germophobes” about the everyday benefits of handwashing, they simply feel happier and “more well” when their germ-fighting comes in a beautiful and fun hand soap package like Bath & Body Works, rather than an austere clinical package that reminds them of the doctor's office. 

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Zicam – empowering and welcoming effect of an orange package with a standout bulls-eye Pre-Cold seal that communicates to consumers they can do something proactive about their health

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Bath & Body Works Antibacterial Hand Soaps - Fun and beautiful alternative to more clinical looking products, helping to make frequent hand washing feel like a happy and uplifting experience

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2. There are physical and emotional aspects to Wellness and the emotional element usually matters more.

Marketers instinctively tend to focus almost exclusively on the physical side. We had one senior client tell us, “Of course wellness is important to me, but I wouldn’t want to force it on someone else.” His preconception was that wellness meant running 6 miles a day and eating leafy greens. But for the majority of the population, a 6 mile run is a polarizing proposition. When we talk to people about how to describe emotional wellness, they say things like, "I’m in a good place right now"– because they feel balanced and at ease. That’s the kind of wellness that appeals to everyone.

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Desert Essence - A terrific story about the power for a packaging overhaul to exponentially drive sales for a brand that was a wellness leader in the natural beauty aisle, but had packaging that was completely out-dated. Beardwood&Co. came up with the tagline “Beauty Blooms In the Desert” to express the idea that Desert Essence harnesses the power of potent ingredients found in the desert to bring you pure and effective treatments. Sales have soared since the new packaging was introduced.

3. “Wellness WHEN” - when brands connect to your need for “Wellness” at certain moments, they help you ‘feel good," creating a powerful emotional bond.

Brands travel with consumers in different ways and when they nail your wellness need at the moment you feel it, you will likely never forget it. And that’s how loyalty is born. One of our clients, Pinch Provisions, has nailed the “Wellness When” of helping people be well prepared in case of minor emergencies. While many Pinch Provisions emergency kits are given as gifts, the brand’s role of providing “anything a gal might need… in a pinch” has brought a smile to the face of many women when they realize they do indeed have what they need to overcome the minor obstacle about to ruin their day. Pinch Provisions turns potential stress into the pleasure of being well prepared, and that just makes us all feel good. We developed the name Pinch Provisions to reflect the moment of need.

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Pinch Provisions – pack layout and name are a balance of organized structure and open space creating a sense of ‘feeling prepared’ as everything is tucked neatly in place, leaving you to feel free and confident

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4. People hate the word “wellness!”

We were surprised when we first heard this – they love, love, love the concept of wellness, but they truly loathe that word. It sounds like a corporate buzzword and reminds them of smoking cessation programs and diets. So we’re endlessly seeking other ways to deliver the message visually and verbally. We literally rewrote every piece of marketing copy for Westin Hotels & Resorts a couple of years ago to evoke wellness without saying the taboo word.

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Westin Hotels & Resorts – ‘for a better you’ (experience during check in, during stay, check out) considered every piece of communications through every piece of the guest journey to make sure their wellness needs were met and they felt “well rested, well nourished and well cared for.” The nature visuals are photographed to feel “hyper alive,” infused with light and radiating positive energy within a calm background

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Honest Fizz – white background and minimal copy creates a calm environment for the bright flavor visuals and romantic bubbles that deliver energy and fun as well as a light and fresh feeling compared to other soda cans with bold and rich colors that feel syrupy and sweet

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5. We have discovered a formula of sorts: “Calm + Energy” for harnessing the emotional benefits of wellness and making it part of a brand’s DNA.

According to founder, Julia Beardwood, “When people feel well, they feel amazingly calm, relaxed and free of stress, yet also re-energized and emotionally lifted. When we deliver that sense of calm and energy – through strategy and design – people react viscerally – it makes them feel good. It’s incredibly effective for brands in any category – and that’s what inspires our work.”

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Real Simple – Packaging for Target product lines is simplified to its essential elements to deliver the calming effect that the Real Simple brand has in women’s lives, while the bold blue and orange color palette feels upbeat and optimistic and stands out in store

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The Dieline team would like to thank the folks of Beardwood&Co. for taking the time to share their knowledge with us.

Beardwood&Co. - a boutique brand, insight and innovation firm located in a Soho, New York loft studio - is helping major brands tap into the influential and ever-growing wellness trend and increase sales. To learn more, click here.